Elon Musk's Brain Implant: Here's How it Works

Elon Musk says brain implant may be able to move to initial human trials later this year.


NSFW    SAN FRANCISCO — After his company Neuralink released a video of a monkey playing pong via an implant in its brain last week, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said on Twitter that it may be able to move to initial human trials later this year.

In a presentation posted to Neuralink's YouTube channel, Musk says the implant is 23 millimetres by 8 millimetres, and has electrode 'threads' attached to it that are implanted into the brain.

The implant is inserted by removing a piece of skull. It then sits flush with the skull, unnoticeable to others beneath hair.

The implant works by monitoring neuron activity in the brain. The University of Queensland describes how neurons operate as a kind of electrical system. First, an electrical signal called an 'action event' is sent through one neuron.

This action event triggers neurotransmitters to be released from that neuron's axon terminal into an area between two neurons. These neurotransmitters are received by the dendrite area on the next neuron, which transforms them back into an electrical signal — its own 'action event.'

In a company video, Neuralink's implant worked in two stages. First it monitored neuron activity in the brain and matched it to movements from its user. Then an iPhone began using only the neuron activity to recreate the recorded movements elsewhere.

Now speculation has begun over the potential applications of this technology. Forbes and others, following Elon Musk's lofty predictions, have suggested that the implant could be harnessed alongside self-driving cars.
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